In a recent speech to Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials, Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Innes Willox urged the government to put a stop to its inflammatory language and calm tensions with China through "negotiation, common sense and diplomacy".
According to a report in The Australian, his remarks were backed by other prominent corporate figures, including Warwick Smith, the former Liberal MP who now runs the Business Council's international engagement efforts.
In fact, with the deepening frostiness in China-Australia ties in recent years, Canberra's toxic anti-China rhetoric and confrontational policies have encountered growing criticism in Australia, as an increasing number of clearsighted Australians have, one after another, raised their voice in support of improving ties with China.
The Australian government should heed these more rational voices, as getting Sino-Australian ties back onto a healthy track would best cater to the country's interests. Australia has obviously garnered great economic benefits from the previously friendly ties between the two countries.
Yet judging by Canberra's recent behavior, especially its move to scrap the deals signed between the State of Victoria and China on the Belt and Road Initiative, there is still a long way to go before the Australian government changes course, as Canberra's clinging to a Cold War mentality means it views China's development as a threat, not an opportunity.
It should realize, however, that its ideological prejudice has totally changed how Australian society views China and subsequently poisoned the atmosphere for meaningful interactions between the two countries.
This was summed up in remarks by former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd in September last year, when he said, "The atmosphere in Australia does not lend itself to a reasoned discussion on the China relationship, because you are automatically defined as either a hawk or a panda hugger."
Indeed, thanks to the efforts of China-bashing politicians and the media in Australia, China has been transformed from a friendly partner into a grave national security "threat".
With such a ridiculous misperception, the Australian government has more often than not taken a provocative and confrontational stance on issues that fall within China's core interests and major concerns, such as Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan, which have severely undermined political mutual trust between the two countries and thus the basis for bilateral cooperation.
It is high time the Australian government accepted that it is the cause of the growing chill in bilateral ties. It should stop disrupting bilateral trade and investment cooperation and instead work with China to promote the sound development of bilateral relations.
To cultivate a conducive atmosphere for bilateral trade cooperation, the Australian side should make more efforts to restore trust and bolster the economic partnership between the two countries. That would be conducive to promoting the interests of both sides.